Why You Must Not Trust Electronic Voting Machines in India

Every Indian Vote Counts
Every Indian Vote Counts

As the vulnerabilities of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are now visible, it is believed that the so-called Modi wave was not driven by voters, but it was driven by voting machines.

By Rakesh Raman

Last week, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati had complained about the electronic voting machines (EVMs)-based voting fraud in the recent Uttar Pradesh (U.P) election. But India’s Election Commission had rejected her complaint.

Was Mayawati’s complaint baseless? No. The election department had ignored her apprehension about the EVMs because the department is handled by traditional bureaucrats who cannot understand technology.

Top tech experts reveal that it is very easy to tamper with EVMs in India and change the election results fraudulently in favor of certain candidates.

[ After the U.S. Election, Rigging Complained in India. Is it Russia? ]

In their study on EVMs in India, security researchers from India, the United States, and the Netherlands argue that “contrary to claims by Indian election authorities, these paperless electronic voting systems suffer from significant vulnerabilities.”

The researchers also have found that even brief access to the machines could allow dishonest election insiders or other criminals to alter election results. They have developed a video to demonstrate their claims.

The voting fraud related to voting machines was also reported in the U.S. presidential election that took place in November last year when Donald Trump won.

The former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein had repeatedly complained that besides Russian hacking, the defective electronic voting machines (EVMs) had helped Trump win. She had also suggested that the EVMs must have an auditable paper-based ballot trail.

[ Trump Election: Jill Stein to Launch Count My Vote Campaign ]

As the vulnerabilities of EVMs are becoming quite visible, besides Mayawati other politicians are also demanding voting on traditional ballot papers.

The president of Delhi State Congress, Ajay Maken, said Monday that the upcoming Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) election should be held on traditional ballot papers instead of EVMs.

Maken asked Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to hold MCD election on ballot papers because many people have raised doubts about EVMs.

[ Save Delhi – MCD Election News 2017 ]

Mayawati – who is a former chief minister of U.P. – had blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headed by India’s Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi for the voting fraud. She says that BJP has rigged the election by tampering with the EVMs in U.P.

Although BJP has rejected Mayawati’s allegations, the BSP leader had filed a complaint against Modi’s party. In its complaint to the Chief Election Commissioner, Mayawati’s BSP has stated that BJP had hired software and technology experts to manipulate the voting machines and win the election.

[ Congress Apprehends EVM Voting Fraud in MCD Election ]

In all probability, Mayawati’s doubts are for real. So, all opposition parties must join hands with her to demand a thorough all-party investigation into the election results of U.P. – at least. And depending on the outcome of the investigation, they should ask for reelection in the state.

Mayawati has said that similar rigging had happened in the 2014 Lok Sabha election also that Modi won to become the PM. It is believed that the last Lok Sabha election result would not have favoured BJP if the voting had happened on paper ballots.

Now it is argued that the so-called Modi wave was not driven by voters, but it was driven by voting machines. Obviously, BJP will always oppose paper ballots and any investigation into the misuse of EVMs. And it goes without saying that the Election Commission of India (ECI) will always obey Modi.

In a formal communication last week, ECI has stated that it has been successfully using EVMs since 2000 in every election in the country and has full confidence on the absolute credibility of ECl-EVMs. Obviously, the ECI wants to continue with EVMs.

But if the opposition parties failed to get EVM-based voting replaced with paper ballots, they must be prepared to hand over more elections to Modi and his BJP.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a government’s National award-winning journalist. He had also been associated with the United Nations (UN) through United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as a digital media expert to help businesses use technology for brand marketing and business development.

Photo courtesy: ECI

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Rakesh Raman